08/24/2009, 00.00
ISRAEL
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Sweden and Israel trade accusations of organ trafficking and anti-Semitism

A diplomatic crisis unfolds between Tel Aviv and Stockholm over a Scandinavian newspaper article which accuses the army of Tel Aviv of "harvesting" organs from Palestinians killed in the Territories.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews / Agencies) -      A diplomatic crisis is escalating between Israel and Sweden over an article in the Scandinavian newspaper Aftonbladet. The newspaper, one of the main Stockholm dailies, accuses the Israeli army of  "harvesting" organs among Palestinians in the territories.  

The facts described in the article date back to 1992. Soldiers from the Israel defense forces are accused of having kidnapped Palestinian youth from whom they explanted organs which were then sold on the market for transplants. According to Aftonbladet, the soldiers later dumped the lifeless bodies of the young people back in their villages of origin after a few days.  

The article has sparked controversial reactions from various members of the Israeli government who accuse Aftonbladet of anti-Semitism. Minister for Finance, Yuval Steinitz, has likened the piece to the publications against the Jews of the Middle Ages. The same comparison has been used by some Israeli citizens to launch a petition and a campaign to boycott Ikea, a global company symbolic of Sweden, which has a store in Netanya (see photo).  

Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has called the Aftonbladet article "outrageous" and has asked the government in Stockholm to distance itself from the journal. Stockholm's ambassador in Tel Aviv described the article as “shocking and appalling”. Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, who is due in Israel in the coming week, has argued that the state can not interfere with press freedom in the country. But Tel Aviv has already taken sanctions against Aftonbladet by denying temporary accreditation to two correspondents. Eli Ishai, Israel's interior minister, has also announced plans to reconsider the permits of stay of all Swedish journalists accredited in Israel.

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